NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

March 20, 2013

Woman admits to mistreating dog

Amesbury: Police say animal was left in feces-filled garage

By Dave Rogers
Staff Writer

---- — AMESBURY — A local woman charged with animal cruelty avoided jail time late last week after reaching a plea deal with prosecutors that calls for her to pay more than $200 in fines.

Elizabeth M. Robertson, 29, of 7 Green St., Amesbury, was arrested last August by Amesbury police officer Jason Kooken following a neighbor’s report that she had been keeping a Boston terrier tied inside a feces-filled garage for days without access to food or water, according to court documents.

By admitting to sufficient facts that she mistreated her dog, Robertson’s case was continued without finding for six months. Should Robertson remain out of trouble during that time, the charge against her would be dropped. By reaching an agreement with prosecutors, Robertson avoided as much as five years in state prison and a $2,500 fine.

According to Kooken’s police report of the incident, the dog’s line was tangled with a baby stroller, keeping it from reaching a water dish about 10 feet away. There was no food inside the garage and the temperature was roughly 90 degrees.

“The odor of dog waste and rotten trash was extremely strong. The strength of the odor caused me to gag and made my eyes water,” Kooken wrote in his report.

An animal control officer who responded to the scene told Kooken that the dog’s crate, which was turned on its side and caked solid with feces and urine, was far too small for the Boston terrier. The dog was taken by the animal control officer to Amesbury Animal Hospital for examination and then to the city’s contracted boarding facility. It was later determined the dog was 7 months old and weighed 17 pounds — 8 pounds less than the normal weight of a Boston terrier that age.

“The crate was so small that I did not believe that if the dog was inside of it, that it could even stand fully up,” Kooken wrote.

Robertson was arrested about a week after a warrant was issued. During an interview with police, she said the dog belonged to her father who was home at the time the animal was in the garage. She also stated that neighbors had agreed to take care of the dog and that the dog was malnourished because it had eaten trash left inside the structure. Photos of the garage, included in court records, show the area to be mostly covered with garbage and debris.

Reached yesterday, Kooken said that after the dog was rescued, it stayed with a foster family who later adopted it.